The Apprentice 3 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 1: No Classby Mike DeGeorge -- 01/27/2005
I'll be honest. After that disaster of a season two, I was NOT looking forward to watching, let alone writing about, Apprentice 3. I don't like the idea of "book smarts vs. street smarts," simply because I don't think anyone without a degree has a chance in hell if they're up against someone with a degree. The nonsensical firings of Troy and Sandy proved that to me. Combine that with a total lack of interest after the horrid season two, and that means I just don't care.
But I'll also admit that watching the show, I started becoming eager to write this column again, simply because I was looking forward to ripping into some of these morons. I have a college degree, so I would technically be on Magna Corporation, but I find myself identifying more and more with Net Worth. Which made me think - when I started this column, my intention was to combine my BS degree with my ten years of real world experience. Looking back, I've realized that I tend to rely on the latter far, FAR more than the former. Furthermore, this year we have the excellent "Big Picture" articles by Andris Pone, which handle the business school side of things quite well, leaving me free to rely on my business experience in these articles.
As always, I will give the candidates advice as if I were giving them a weekly performance review. Winning team goes first.
Net Worth Corporation:
Boy, Magna did NOT like it when you kept mentioning that your incomes were triple theirs, did they? Every time someone mentioned it, they winced. The reason for that is simple and obvious - while Magna candidates are lawyers and real estate agents, Net Worth are business owners and entrepreneurs. Love the name, by the way. Every time Trump says it, it's another twist of the knife to Magna.
Which leads me into my next point - Trump said he was a big believer in education, but he said he might have to rethink it. Um, why wait until now? What about Troy? Or Sandy? They ring a bell? They did pretty good and got fired because of their lack of education. Then again, early in the first season, Trump said he might never hire a man again. How did that work out?
I really liked your operation. Everything, from the marketing to the running of the restaurant to even the choice of burger (which, by the way, is excellent. I had one tonight, in fact.) was top notch. It was easy to predict that you would win, mainly because we spent most of our time with Magna!
Angie: The only thing I remember from you was your comment that "nothing is beneath" you. I love that attitude! The best way to motivate your staff is to show that you're willing to get your hands dirty, and nothing irritates a subordinate like being handed a dead fish of a project that no one else is willing to handle.
Audrey, Chris, Craig, and Tara: We didn't see enough of you to make a good determination of your abilities. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - I said the same thing to Bill the first few weeks of season one.
Brian: You're taking a lot of heat for worrying so much about the Viking helmet in the store. While it was a bit silly, I can't imagine that it cost your team anything, and it contributed a bit of fun to the proceedings. If I were you, I'd promote the helmet as a lucky helmet (or get a spear and make it your spear and magic helmet! Spear and magic heeellllmet! North winds blow! South winds blow!… um, sorry. It's getting late.) and bring the whole team into it, kind of like Troy's lucky hat. Promoting teamwork, when not done annoyingly like with a guitar or a stupid cheer, is always a positive. I like your attitude.
That said, you came off as a bit of a rube, especially when talking to Trump about the broken down limo story. That can be endearing, but I tend to think you'll be looked at as more of a weirdo like Raj that the others make fun of, not the one everyone likes.
Kristen: Others have commented on your past on Murder in Small Town X, but I didn't see enough to get an impression. I can't imagine how you'd be so surprised that a travel agent works out of his apartment, though. It's not like that's an incredibly rare arrangement!
Tana: If you're going to get all upset about dog pee, you're not in the right game. You should hope there's not a dog washing challenge! You did look to do a fantastic job behind the counter, though, which counts for a lot.
John: You really know how to make a great first impression! You got on your team's good side and brought attention to yourself in a good way by offering the idea that whatever happens in the boardroom stays in the boardroom. Of course, you could be setting yourself up for a fall, but that might also be part of your plan - draw them into your trap. I'll be interested to see which is the case.
Onto your performance in the task as Project Manager - to be frank, it's one of the finest performances of any project manager in three seasons of The Apprentice. Your speech to the staff about no one on the team having a college degree was a stroke of brilliance. They knew right away that they were working for people who KNEW HOW TO WORK and didn't just read about it in a book. (For further proof of this, remember how Todd was scribbling in his notebook while John was in the middle of things). As any good manager knows, once you get the staff on your side, the rest is cake.
I'm not sure if you had a checklist with every single mistake possible that you could make outlined on it, but you did a darn good job of screwing up royally. One of the biggest problems I have is that you kept talking about a "buzz." One thing I really hate about the business world is useless catchphrases, and that's right up at the top of that list. The other problem is that freaking annoying "Unbelievable!" cheer. It's corny and stupid. Team unity is admirable, but maybe you could show team unity by doing something like, you know, performing.
Bren and Michael: We didn't see enough of you this week for me to comment.
Erin: You looked like you were going to cry when you lost. And then you did cry talking to Todd, because losing someone would be "stressful." You're a LAWYER? And you're whining ALREADY about stress? I lived with someone going through law school. Anyone who has survived the third year of law school should be able to eat this show for breakfast. And it doesn't take a college degree to work those touch pads. Really. What was the problem?
And between the pink fluffy bath mat you wore in confessionals, and the snow boot and skirt ensemble, you look to have the early lead in the 2005 "Worst Dressed" RNO category.
Kendra: We didn't see much of you, but I have to give you credit for not falling in lockstep with the rest and firing Danny. It would have been really easy to catch the scent on the wind and go along with the group, but you spoke your mind, and I respect the hell out of that.
Stephanie: So you complained about Danny messing up the marketing. Why did you just give up? Now, this might have been editing, but it didn't look like you fought much, or at all, for any of your ideas. You just huffed and got discouraged. You should be blamed for the failure of the marketing as much as Danny.
Verna: You seem very humorless. Every time we saw you, you seemed to be complaining about something. Let us know if you're the standard "I didn't come here to make friends" person, and we'll start preparing the cab ride home for you. And you're a fast food expert because you eat a lot? Then you make your decision based on what YOU like. I'd rip you apart for it, except that the rest of your team was stupid enough to listen to you!
Alex: I agreed with Trump that you shouldn't have been brought into the boardroom… until you volunteered that it was your decision to only put two people on the registers. Bad move. Why didn't you help out? Shouldn't the kitchen manager been trained on the register? For a while, I was convinced you were going home. You escaped, but you've got quite a hole to dig out of.
Danny: Normally I like the "offbeat" contestants in these types of shows. But you're not offbeat. You're just freakin' annoying. And I was going to make an Animal House joke about the guitar, but Betsy, and probably everyone else on the site, beat me to it.
You were right, though - you could have had the best marketing in the world, and it wouldn't have helped because the floor was undermanned. I've walked out of places because of long waits, many times, whether I'm in a hurry or not. I don't have much patience for places that can't staff themselves properly. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Todd: You were pretty worthless, weren't you? You didn't get trained on the register, you didn't help with the marketing - you weren't even a leader! You just sat around and scratched notes. At that point, what in God's name did you need to write about? Without the marketing plan, what more needed to be planned?
Worst of all, you didn't control Danny. That was the killer, in my mind. You weren't a leader, and you blamed it on everyone else but yourself. As a manager, I'll forgive a lot, but if you screw up, you had BETTER own up to it.
Mike DeGeorge has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, and has almost ten years of management experience. He is also Associate Editor of RNO. Email Mike at email@example.com.
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